Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview: How would you direct someone else on how to cook an omelet?

How would you direct someone else on how to cook an omelette?


This seems like a rather boring question... this seems to have a mixture of figuring your attentiveness to detail while keeping it simple. There are probably some variations that you could consider depending on the role you are interviewing for. Less detail for management, more details for designers, more economical analysis for financial analysis, including hiring a chef, question all the requirements of an omelette... I decided on what I consider a simple, minimal style with some focus to details.

1. Ask the person if they already know how to cook an omelette
1a. If yes, then ask what the basic steps are to making an omelette. If it sounds reasonable, then I would just let them cook an omelette because it will be unlikely worse than my omelette. End
2. Make sure the person has all the necessary preparations, non-stick frying pan, stove, spatula, oil/butter, eggs, a bowl, plate, and something to beat the eggs.
3. Crack eggs into bowl
4. Beat eggs
5. Turn on stove to med/high
6. Put pan on stove
7. Add oil/butter onto pan
8. Wait 2 minutes
9. Spread oil/butter so that it evenly coats the bottom of the inside of the pan
10. Add the beaten eggs
11. Wait until you see the bottom layer solidifying
12. Use spatula to slide under the egg to test if the eggs are sticking to the pan
13. If sticking to the pan
13a. Lower the heat
13b. Keep sliding the spatula around the bottom of the eggs to keep egg from burning
14. When the eggs look 90% solid, tilt the pan slightly and slide the egg so that it is partially off the pan
15. Use spatula to fold the egg in half
16. Turn off the stove
17. Let omelette sit in a pan for about a minute
18. Lift pan, tilt slightly, and slide omelette into plate.
19. Place plate to the side
20. Clean all the used items
21. If omelette is presentable, serve omelette
22, Post-mortem - If omelette is not presentable, depending on blah, blah, and blah.... (ie common mistake guideline, seek second opinion, etc.)

You could add a step to add other things to the omelette. But given that I struggle making my own omelette, I would not be able to direct someone else to do it. Yes, it also happens to be convenient to shorten the answer for an interview but it happens to be the truth for me.

Assuming the person has no idea how to cook like myself, the key point is not make too many assumptions but also not to make it too long. The interviewer may interject so be ready. Some may do this to test your ability to multitask. Others to see how well you handle interruption. Also be ready to clarify on certain steps that you may have overlooked and why you thought certain steps were important to state. Don't make it overly fancy if you happen to be an omelette bistro. It is still an interview question so make sure you can finish within 2-3 minutes.

I recommend you to think through the main steps with some mental notes where you should clarify. This way you can get your preparations in correctly. Try to minimum how many times you need to backtrack when you realize you missed a step. If you realize you missed an important step, then do backtrack. If a minor detail, leave it to the end.

Some additional thoughts on other blog ideas... write a different set for different role types as mentioned above.